by: Marcel Drgon [ ]
Trumpeter recently expanded their T-80 kit range in 1/35th scale with a quite exotic vehicle. According to the available sources, which are sometimes controversial, Object 292 was built in one prototype and its purpose was the development and testing of a new 152.4 mm tank gun with autoloader. Designed by Kirov Works and Specmah in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), the hull was borrowed from an early T-80U with 1250 HP GTD and the turret at the end was a heavily modified T-80B one, when the planned all-new design did not materialise.
Both smoothbore and rifled versions of the new gun have allegedly been considered. Sources say that only the smoothbore was built and tested, however I came across a statement that the guys in Kubinka checked the tube on their exhibit and found out that itís a rifled one. The project died with the lack of necessary funds during the economic and political turmoil in Russia in the early 90-ies, however the knowledge and trial data most likely serve the Russians in the current tank gun developments.
Be as it is, this White Elephant vehicle was kept quite hidden until the Specmash handed it over to the Kubinka collection few years ago. According to the available videos itĎs in running order. After a quite crude attempt by a garage Russian producer Customfactory Trumpeter made another try on this subject. What Trumpeter actually provides us is an unaltered T-80BV kit with a fully new turret for the Object 292.
The appearance of the turret is quite decent, however the comparison with available pictures shows that itís not 100% spot on in all places - Trumpeterís kit designers did not make any measurements and used only pictures. The commanderís hatch would not work as it is and needs the thick added layer to be cut in 2 pieces at least. But according to the available references the turret looks quite close to the real thing and is the better part of the kit.
The worse part of the kit is the hull. Plain T-80BV hull canĎt work here at all, and Trumpeter makes things even worse instructing us to build it exactly as it would be a regular T-80BV with the ERA mounted. Donít listen to that advice. The easiest rectification is leaving out the ERA on the front glacis out and put the 50 mounting brackets for it on. Who wants to go deeper should also change the glacis plate to the thicker one for a late B and subsequent versions.
Next thing to improve is the driverís hatch area. Object 292 had the vision blocks covered by a small roof and a square plate was welded to the hatch itself. Final problem are the side skirts. Again no ERA mounted here contrary to what Trumpeter instructs us to do, but what is worse, their shape on the real thing is quite unique and resembles those seen for the most part on the Kharkov produced early T-80Us, T-80UDs. Way out here is only a heavy alternation of the T-80BV side skirts.
Last but not least Ė there is still the old problem of all Trumpeter T-80 based running gears (Pion and Msta included) Ė the half of the tracks shoes is wrong, as the Trumpeter guy mirrored these during the first kitís design instead of turning these clockwise. Itís quite annoying that Trumpeter continues to throw these into the kit boxes when they must have long noticed such blatant error by now. Spare tracks on the other sprues and the additional workable track set for the T-80 are correct.
Pictures show the vehicle in two paint schemes, both are from its post-trial Kubinka times. One is plain green (most likely the livery in which it was handed over), second one is the MERDC-like Soviet/ Russian one used from the late 80-ies until being discontinued few years ago. As regards any fit problem during the construction, there are none, everything falls together rather nicely. Some of the turret parts had visible sink marks in my kit.